Why is Fentanyl So Dangerous?

It’s the drug that killed Prince, Tom Petty, and Mac Miller. It’s the opioid that took the lives of 29,000 people in the U.S. in 2017. It’s the synthetic narcotic which has 50 times more potency than heroin.

Yes, we’re talking about none other than fentanyl.

For years now, fentanyl has been taking over heroin and morphine. In fact, the U.S. CDC says it’s caused more deaths than any other opioids.

This alone should already answer your question, “Why is fentanyl so dangerous?” But to those who’ve become addicted to it, it’s not enough for their clouded judgment.

That’s why as a concerned parent, sibling, child, or friend, it’s best you know more about this drug. This way, you are better equipped to handle a drug intervention and to make them agree to go to rehab.

Ready to learn more about fentanyl? Let’s dive right into it.

What is Fentanyl?

So, what is fentanyl?

It’s a type of drug that falls under the opioid category. Opioids are often used as a form of medication for relieving pain. These substances also contain chemicals which help relax the body.

Not all opioids are illegal – there are those which doctors have the authority to prescribe. After all, these prescription meds help 50 million people in the U.S. who suffer from chronic pain. Morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and codeine are examples of prescription opioids.

Doctors can prescribe fentanyl, but only for patients with severe pain conditions. The same goes for patients who’ve gone through surgery and need pain management. But it’s a schedule II prescription drug, because of its high potential for abuse.

Why People Become Addicted to and Abuse it

Fentanyl is so powerful that even inhalation of fentanyl patches can be intoxicating. But it’s also this intoxication that drives people to keep using it even when no longer needed. From here, dependence and abuse start, causing serious physical and mental health problems.

What exactly does fentanyl drug do to the body and make people want to keep using it?

Fentanyl works much like how heroin and morphine do, in the way they affect the brain. To be more precise, the body’s opioid receptors, which regulate pain and emotions.

Fentanyl or opioids bind or “attach themselves” to these receptors. Once they do, they trigger a considerable increase in dopamine levels. This then results in a relaxed, even euphoric state.

Aside from pain relief, it’s also this euphoria that makes people use opioids. In the case of fentanyl, its extreme potency drives people to want its euphoric effects.

Granted, heroin and morphine bring the same effects. But comparing fentanyl vs morphine, the former can be up to 100 times more powerful. That’s why it causes more deaths than these two other commonly-abused opioids.

Why is Fentanyl So Dangerous?

Fentanyl side effects are much like heroin, including nausea, drowsiness, and confusion. It also causes constipation, sedation, and in case of higher doses, unconsciousness. Respiratory problems, like chest pain, tightness, and breathing difficulty can also arise.

But that’s not the end of it. Its effects are so potent that anyone who uses it has such high potential for becoming tolerant to it. This, in turn, can lead to addiction and abuse, which can be the precursor to overdose.

Overdosing on fentanyl can cause coma and death.

Fentanyl can do this since it can affect opioid receptors controlling breathing rate. When taken in high doses, this drug can cause the person to stop breathing completely. From there, death can then follow.

The extreme potency of fentanyl is what makes it more dangerous than other opioids. There’s a much higher risk of overdosing on it, especially if someone uses a drug not knowing it has fentanyl.

Furthermore, illegal fentanyl pills are often mixed with other drugs. These include narcotics like cocaine or heroin. In any case, this combination further boosts the drug’s potency and life-threatening effects.

When Fentanyl Abuse Occurs

If taken only as prescribed by a doctor, the risk of overdosing is low. But when someone uses it outside of doctor’s orders, they can become tolerant to it.

Tolerance occurs as the body adjusts to continuous receipt of the drug. This then results to a person having to increase intake of the drug to achieve the usual effects. But the body keeps adjusting to these changes, to the point that it can no longer take the higher doses.

This abusive behavior from developing tolerance is what leads to drug overdoses. Also, the more fentanyl ingested, the more dangerous the side effects – and their severity.

The Signs of Fentanyl Abuse

Overdosing on fentanyl often causes symptoms like shallow or slow breathing. People who abuse this drug can also become depressed and isolate themselves. Lack of energy, loss of strength, as well as muscle and back pains are also common abuse signs.

It’s important these people get medical attention when these symptoms appear. Again, fentanyl can completely stop breathing, causing coma or even death.

Also be on the lookout for withdrawal symptoms pointing to a person’s use or abuse of fentanyl. These occur when someone stops its use or there’s a significant reduction in their usual dose. Here are a few of these signs that a person is on fentanyl withdrawal:

  • Restlessness, irritability, or anxiety
  • Chills, sweating, watery eyes, or runny nose
  • Muscle pain, back pain, or joint pain
  • Quickened breathing
  • High blood pressure or increased heart rate

General weakness, stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting are also typical withdrawal symptoms. If you notice a loved one exhibiting these symptoms, take that as a sign of possible fentanyl abuse.

Help for Intervention and Rehabilitation

Now that you know how and why is fentanyl so dangerous, act quickly if you suspect a loved one addicted to it. Of course, seeking medical attention is the utmost priority. But for one to completely rid themselves of fentanyl addiction, rehabilitation should follow.

Does someone you care about and love suffer from drug or alcohol abuse? If so, then please don’t hesitate to connect with us. We can help prevent even more serious consequences from befalling your loved one.

Real Client Testimonials

  • Before coming to coastal I was hopeless, helpless, and my family wanted nothing to do with me. It wasn’t the first detox I’d ever been to, but it was the only one who showed me so much love and compassion. They gave me hope. It’s hard to put into words the amount of gratitude I have for this facility. The employees were my family when I had none. The staff went out of their way to make sure not only were my physical needs taken care of, but my emotional needs as well. From the first phone call prior to admission, to helping me set up continuing care, they never missed a beat. Even going as far as to help me with my legal issues via Zoom court. This isn’t just a detox, they are the family I never had. All of the techs, especially Karen, are phenomenal. They will take the time to listen to you, laugh, and cry(if needed) with you. If you are reading this and you or your loved one is suffering like I was, go to Coastal Detox. The level of care is more than I could ever put into a review. It wasn’t the first detox I’d been to, but it has been my last; I owe them everything I have today, including my life.

    Travis B. Avatar
    Travis B.
    12/07/2020
  • Had a really good experience at Coastal. The staff really went above and beyond in helping me get in and gave me the respect l, space and care I needed after I first got there. As I started to fell better they encouraged me to take part in groups which helped get me out of my head and bring positivity and health to my thinking. They had a great massage therapist, who came daily and it was evident the nursing staff genuinely cared. Got to know some of the staff as well and I’m grateful for the cooks Joe and Chris. Those guys literally made us sirloins and pork chops for dinner. Also I gotta thank Chris and Chris for helping me get in and setting me up with a transition plan. Real grateful for that help, I’m not sure if it’s management intention to hire guys named Chris but they got a good thing going there. Overall, I’m clean and sober today and walking it out. Coastal gave me a base that set me up for the success that I’m walking in today

    Brandon B. Avatar
    Brandon B.
    1/16/2020
  • My family is very thankful for Coastal Detox. They have went above and beyond for my son a few times. Unfortunately he has needed their help more than once and they have ever turned their back on him, even when he was at his worst. Jeannie and Chris have been amazing and kept me informed through the entire process. They truly care about the addict and want to help them especially when it would be easy to give up on them. I had many detox facilities be rude and uncaring to me when I was searching for help for my son, but Coastal never did that to us. I don't know the names of all the team members that have helped my son but I know their are many and y'all are angels!! One day we will be able to pay it forward and help someone as you have helped us. Thank you for all you do!!

    Brenda A. Avatar
    Brenda A.
    1/01/2020
  • Can not say enough nice things about Coastal Detox & staff. Family member was there, told me five stars for the facility & all whom she interacted with. Said the facilities, ambience..., cleanliness, grounds, food, (think their chef is five stars), were all top shelf. All I interacted with personally & on the phone were patient, professional, responsive & caring. Kudos to so many: Jeannie Jones, Clinical Director whom I spent the most face to face time with: great oversight, patience & follow thru. Raquel Barker, Therapist was so understanding & on spot with her assessments/care. Kris Garrigus Admissions Director, another Coastal professional whom I cannot say enough nice things about, always so patient & responsive to my probably too frequent inquires. Not to be forgotten is Judy Tucker, Director of Operations she too so patiently "put up with me"
    I highly recommend Coastal Detox

    Susan C. Avatar
    Susan C.
    11/13/2019
  • Can not say enough nice things about Coastal Detox & staff. Family member was there, told me five stars for the facility & all whom she interacted with. Said the facilities, ambience..., cleanliness, grounds, food, (think their chef is five stars), were all top shelf. All I interacted with personally & on the phone were patient, professional, responsive & caring. Kudos to so many: Jeannie Jones, Clinical Director whom I spent the most face to face time with: great oversight, patience & follow thru. Raquel Barker, Therapist was so understanding & on spot with her assessments/care. Kris Garrigus Admissions Director, another Coastal professional whom I cannot say enough nice things about, always so patient & responsive to my probably too frequent inquires. Not to be forgotten is Judy Tucker, Director of Operations she too so patiently "put up with me"
    I highly recommend Coastal Detox

    Susan C. Avatar
    Susan C.
    11/06/2019

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